Nyla Allen, Pro X intern

Earlier this month, Nyla Allen, started what many students would call a dream assignment. As part of the Pro X Summer Program, Allen is spending five weeks working for the Kansas City Royals.  

No, she’s not selling popcorn or taking tickets. Allen is working in Royal’s corporate office where she’s tackling the problem of how to get GenZ teens to come to the baseball stadium and support their hometown professional baseball team. 

The ProX Summer Program is designed to provide “Real World Learning” More than just a catchphrase, the Real-World Learning Initiative, is a program developed and promoted by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation that has proven to help students gain the skills they need to navigate their future.  

Through Real-World Learning, which includes a series of immersive experiences, students gain Market Value Assets – industry-valued and recognized skills that help them seamlessly transition from school to post-secondary education and/or the workplace. 

According to the Kauffman Foundation, youth who have these assets are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education/training and successfully navigate the journey from school to employment.

How ProX Started

This is the second summer for the Pro X Summer Program, a program started by Thalia Cherry who noticed a huge void in programs that provide young people access to an entrepreneurial mindset. She started Entrepreneurship KC in 2020 as an initiative to help build and strengthen the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

She started asking small businesses if they would be willing to take interns for the summer.

Soon enough, the Kauffman Foundation, who saw the program as offering “Real World Learning” experiences to students, asked if they could financially support the program.

The program is a five-week program that began June 2 and finishes July 8.  Students work 25 hours per week.  On Monday, all participants come together for a 4-hour training and networking session with the other 21 hours spent at their assigned work location. 

The good news, program participants receive a $1200 stipend, which works out to just under $10 per hour.  

Getting Into the Program

Participants begin by applying for the program and each applicant are required to attend a workshop where they learn to create a resume, interview tips and prepare for the ProX Hiring Fair.  Applicants who complete the workshop process are invited to attend the ProX Job Fair where they interview for opportunities that align with their interests.  

This year as the job fair approached, 400 applicants were ready to interview, but only 100 employers had stepped forward to take the interns this summer.

To help fill the gap, some organizations, like the Wyandotte County Unified Government of Kansas City stepped up and found engaging opportunities for 19 ProX interns.  

Cherry says she interned for the Unified Government when she was 16 years old. A Wyandotte County resident, she said the internship proved really important to her. 

“I’ve always been inspired to really give the same opportunity back to young people that I received. A lot of people actually poured into me,” she said.

Cherry reached out to UG Mayor Tyrone Gardner to see if he would make Real World Learning opportunities available for students. Cherry said younger people are not generally familiar with civic engagement and the role of local government. 

“It really gives you a global perspective of understanding your community and how you can help support it, whether it’s voting, understanding how the department functions, or how they really help elevate the wonderful aspects of Wyandotte county,” Cherry said.

At the end of the program, all of the ProX interns will come together at Arrowhead to report on the special project they worked on during the summer. The interns will give a report on the special project they worked on during the summer.  

“I can’t say enough about how Kauffman has been so gracious and walked alongside to just really help build the next generation and bring the community to America,” she said. ‘They’ve been great partners and I just think it’s important to elevate them as well,”

For more details and information on Pro X, go to here

Simone Garza was a reporter in our Kansas City office. In addition to general reporting on Kansas City’s African-American community, she reports on economic inclusion for the African American community....